Owens opens his assault on Murtha by deliberately misquoting him.
As everyone knows, Rep. Jack Murtha (D., Pa.) initiated a fierce debate last Thursday when he launched a scathing attack on Bush's Iraq policy...and called for a timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq.
"Everyone knows" that Murtha called for a "timetable" because Mack Owens and others told them he did. The word "timetable" has become a hand grenade that gets hurled at anyone who opposes the Bush administration's policies, but it does not appear anywhere in Murtha's formal statement to the House of Representatives or in his proposed joint resolution. Professor Owens knows this, and so does every other pro-administration spin merchant who misquoted Murtha for the express purpose of misleading the public.
Owens follows his first volley with a cheap shot below the waterline:
Murtha has been a critic of U.S. policy in Iraq for some time despite his vote to authorize the war… Murtha supported Howard Dean as DNC chairman and joined Nancy Pelosi in May 2004 in labeling the war "un-winnable."
But there is no need to attempt to discredit Murtha this way.
Oh really, Professor? Then why did you just attempt it?
Next comes the obligatory allusion to the Vietnam disaster:
…if the United States were to take Murtha's advice, the outcome would be precisely the opposite of what he desires. He only needs to recall what happened in Vietnam.
It's remarkable how the war hawks denied any similarity between Iraq and Vietnam until it became convenient to equate them. In a National Review Online article from 2003, Owens wrote:
I am officially sick of the constant claims of reporters and politicians that Iraq is becoming a rerun of the Vietnam "quagmire." These people don’t know what they are talking about. They remind me of the old adage that it is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt. The fact is that there is little similarity between Iraq and Vietnam. Indeed, there is little comparison between the real Vietnam War and the facile description of it that we get from critics of the Iraq operation.
So who doesn't know what they're talking about now? Professor Owens or the "critics of the Iraq operation?"
And no broadside against Murtha would be complete without the ubiquitous reference to his sentimentality and a backhand to the "liberal media."
…it is very clear that Murtha has been moved by the soldiers he has visited who have been wounded in the war and by the plight of those who have lost loved ones in Iraq. But those of us who respect his grasp of military affairs expect him, unlike members of the press, to be able to place casualties in strategic context.
This is about as original as original sin. Any Naval War College student who put this passage in a term paper without citing Fox News would be expelled for plagiarism.
But more to the point is Owens' snide inference that Murtha was pandering to the liberal press. Even more specious is the suggestion that Murtha--or anyone--is incapable of both mourning our war casualties and placing them in "strategic context."
Owens' article is rife with emotionally evocative mantras: "domestic defeatism," "cut and run," "dishonor," "shame," "betray," "abandon." One expects this sort of childish rhetoric from Ann Coulter, but not from a distinguished professor of national security studies.
In all, "Defeated by Defeatism" is pseudo-academic advocacy that publications like the National Review so often pass off for genuine scholarly analysis. I'm sorry to see that someone of Mack Owens' remarkable intellect and talent has stooped to writing it.